Walking and talking are surely two essential functions of our day-to-day lives, but when they happen while we’re sleeping, it’s alarming. Sleepwalking and sleeptalking are quite common sleep disorders and can occur either in the first couple of hours after falling asleep or during the deepest sleep stage. These unusual disorders are not uncommon. In fact, sleep experts have found out that 50% of children and 5% of adults are sleeptalking on a regular basis, while 15% of adults and over 25% of children are sleepwalkers. In addition of this article, we explore the causes of both sleepwalking and sleeptalking and suggest how to deal with these unusual sleep disorders.
Have you ever had a friend or a relative who got up at night, started walking around the house and acting just like they are wide awake? That is a prime example of sleepwalkers. Sleepwalking, or somnambulism, is a sleep disorder that causes people to get up in their sleep and walk around unconsciously. It activates the human’s normal physiological systems at times when they are supposed to be off. Besides walking, sleepwalkers might engage into other undesired events or even run away from their homes in an effort to escape from a dream threat.
Even if the eyes of a sleepwalker are opened, they are not actually seeing. After completing a sleepwalking activity, most sleepwalkers have a tendency to get back in their beds on their own will. If they wake up during sleepwalking state, they are usually confused and not aware of what have happened. In sleepwalking state, people usually start doing daily activities that aren’t done at night, such as cleaning, calling people, turning the PC on and eating.
Even after centuries of researching this disorder, exact causes of sleepwalking are yet to be found. However, sleep experts suggest that it can be triggered by emotional troubles, fever, sickness, lack of sleep, stress or it could be hereditary. Also, sleepwalking is not associated with other psychological or psychiatric issues, which means that sleepwalkers are not in danger, unless they injure themselves in their sleeping activities. If you ever notice that someone of the people who you live with is sleepwalking, you should walk them back to their bed and prevent further house walking.
Sleeptalking, or somniloquy, is a much more common sleep disorder, especially among children. It can occur both during the REM and the non-REM sleeping stage. It usually happens during the transition between one non-REM stage to another or when the sleeper becomes half-awake. But when it happens during the REM stage (when we’re dreaming), dreamers are actually talking out loud as one of their characters in the dream (verbalizing their dreams). Sleeptalkers are usually not aware of their behavior and actions, until they are being told.
This unusual disorder involves mumbling of complicated and meaningless monologues and dialogues that are almost impossible to understand. These talks are usually very brief and in several episodes during the night. Although it is possible to remember their sleeping conversations, most sleeptalkers do not remember what they say during sleep. Sleeptalking is physically harmless, but it could be very embarrassing for two or more people who share the room.
Just like sleepwalking, there only possible causes of sleeptalking. Sleep experts suggest that sleeptalking could be a sign of a more serious sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, REM behavior disorder, night terrors, etc. Day-time drowsiness, alcohol, fever, depression, excessive stress and lack of sleep are also possible causes of sleeptalking, as experts indicate. Studies have found out that 50% of children will occasionally talk in their sleep, but as they age, it becomes less common with only 5% of them remaining to do so. Since sleeptalking occurs during overlapping states of consciousness, it happens for only a second or two. Usually, these short vocal outbursts are followed by a quick return to silent sleep.
Since these two sleep disorders are harmless, no treatment is required. But if any of them starts preventing you from getting a good sleep on a nightly basis, consult a sleep specialist to help you find a solution.